7 Tracks=1 Gretsch Guitar, but what did I do wrong? (mixing/DAW)

Discussion in 'Gretsch-Talk Music' started by Poeticas, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    This is my first mix of a song I composed in Reaper. I was really happy about it until I listened to other people's mixes and realized mine has a lot of work to do. I don't want to say it sucks, but it's definitely amateurish (the mixing levels anyway). First off, here's my song (you only have to listen to 20-30 seconds of it to get the idea):
    <iframe width="480" height="360" src="">
    Ok, OK, it sucks ! Lol...
    The only part I am happy with is the 'pendulum' like guitar melody. I recorded one clean with a jazz amp sim and panned it right and then I recorded the other with another amp sim (heard this gives you a good tone). I used a stock plugin to convert my guitar to a bass and recorded that using center, now that I look back I should have tried something different. I couldn't get a clean sound with arpeggios I was doing so I recorded those using Audacity and then inserted it as a wav file into Reaper. When I was messing with the EQ levels, I could not bring the clarity up without it distorting. There's even a cool classical like riff I did that Bach does a lot in his cello pieces, but you can't even hear it. Also, I wasn't using a direct line input like a Focusrite- I was using my Fender amp and using the ASIO stuff I got from the Fender app. I am going to record another song but should I wait until I can afford a direct line in device?

    Also, I didn't even know that you can put effects such as compression in the master track and it will effect all the tracks. Should I use a compressor, limiter, eq on the master track or should I use them on every individual track, or both? At what volume should I be recording at?

    Granted, this is meant to be an ambient piece, but that excuse only goes so far! :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2019
  2. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I'm am not qualified to try and fix this or suggest how but I will voice an opinion because, well you know, we all have them. To me, it sounds like there are some overlapping frequencies form other tracks stomping all over each other. I could be wrong but it is how it sounds to me. How do you fix that? I would thin you would have to rerecord it with each track occupying its own space. Instruments can overlap and I think often do but when they start doing it at the same time things get muddy. A couple of questions, just how much compression is being used do you have the ability to record a track then play along with it? Maybe that would help you determine what needs to go where? Of course, it is more than likely I am way out to lunch but one or more fo the guys here with all the experience will shoot me down and correct me so we will all learn in the end!
     
  3. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Yeah, I wish I can just use the Twin Reverb setting from my Fender Mustang because I really like the tone of it. For some reason I am not able to do this in Reaper- I don't know if it's my ASIO settings or if I am just plain doing it wrong. In Audacity I can record using my Twin Reverb setting but for some reason when I transfer it to Reaper, it doesn't sound anything close to it. I'm starting to think I really need something like that Focusrite Scarlet.
     
  4. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    Sorry I really don’t know. I use logic but seldom record unless it’s to hear how bad I am. I use a Zen Tour but usually for the fpga. I know virtually nothing and have less experience. Someone will be along that has better knowledge then me. I was hoping that someone would have jumped in already pointing out where I was wrong or right. But truly mixing is a talent but first you need good tracks. How do you mix them? Do you record a track, then record another track and save it etc? I would not do any editing until I had the tracks all recorded.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  5. GlenP

    GlenP Electromatic

    86
    Jul 23, 2019
    WA
    Sounds like some nice fingerstyle guitar work in there, some of it a little hard to hear in the mix, so bring it out front. Think of the tracks as layers on a landscape painting, some are background some are foreground. Adjust the mix levels relative to each other rather than having everything the same, maybe try to change them up, bring one level up while bringing another one down, this changes the landscape of the sound, bring the arpeggio up front at first then slowly move it back as you introduce the melody track and that comes to the front, etc. Let the tracks move in and out of the picture to create your soundscape. Like sounds in nature, you tend to focus on individual sounds the bubbling brook, the birds chirping, the frogs croaking, and the crickets singing, each one taking focus as you wander along your journey. Kind of like how Bob Ross creates a painting, there are no mistakes, only Happy Accidents!
     
    Poeticas and Bertotti like this.
  6. Crooner

    Crooner Friend of Fred

    Apr 15, 2009
    Boston
    In my experience and from what I've learned from others, recording and mixing is, like GlenP says, painting. It's also a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, insofar that you want to "shape" each track's sonic character in such a way that they interlock and not necessarily overlap.

    The first step to capture as clean a signal as possible. I would recommend getting a decent audio interface. Most USB interfaces are very affordable and will make life so much easier for you. They convert your audio signal to digital and allow you to best shape it in your DAW.

    The next steps are using EQ, Compression and other tools to make the tracks sound their best *with each other* and not necessarily by themselves. Often a track that sounds great solo'd will not play well in the context of a mix. This is where the jigsaw analogy comes into play.

    Take a guitar track, for instance: you don't want it to muddy up the works by interfering with the bass and kick or any other instruments that occupy the lower frequencies, so use EQ to roll off some of the lows that don't need to be there. Similarly, there may be high end frequencies that you'll want to roll off or cut. Also, use a thin band of EQ to search around for problem frequencies that might make a track sound harsh or boxy and cut those frequencies in small increments. Using EQ is often called subtractive because you can get a lot done by cutting certain areas rather than boosting. This isn't to say that you won't need to boost sometimes. Just use your ears and if your DAW's EQ plugin has a spectrum analyzer, look at what it reads and let that guide you.

    Compressions even tracks out but should be used carefully and with forethought. If too much is used, it can take the "life" out of tracks by getting rid of too much dynamic info. Again, use your ears to best judge how much or little to use.

    As for effects, these, too, can be used to further enhance a track to your liking.

    You can use EQ, Compression and effects on your Master bus to shape the overall mix.

    Often, it can be very good practice to use Busses to do what's called "parallel processing." This is when you, rather than applying something like compression directly to a track, you send the signal of a given track to a bus and then compress that bus more than you would if you were just placing the comp on the track itself. You then mix in just enough of the bus compression along with the original track to arrive at the desired sound. This works for reverb and countless other effects.

    This is just a tiny example and I highly recommend you search YouTube for mixing tips. Even if certain YouTube tutorials don't use Reaper, the things they'll show are most often universal and translate to any DAW.

    Let me know if there is anything else I can help you with and most importantly, keep recording and mixing, for the more you do it, the better you'll get!
     
  7. DougWheeler74

    DougWheeler74 Electromatic

    7
    Jul 10, 2019
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Lots of good advice given already but some of the things that I do might be useful. There are many good videos on Reaper's site as well as youtube; I reference them a lot. Recording techniques can be driven by preference, space and budget. My preference is to use an interface and mic the amp. I use a FocusRite Scarlett 2i2 and generally a Shure SM57 on the amp. Of course the space and mics can color the sound but my work is simple so other than the neighbor's snow blower or a passing train my setup works well for me. :)

    Rule 1
    Recording and mixing is a mix of science, art and taste. It is as much a part of the song as the playing.

    You can't engineer out bad input. Am I distorting coming in? Am I out of tune? Does the part add or subtract? Etc.

    I also keep the record the input below the red light on the VU meter.

    A quick check that I use is to mute tracks until I hear the problem such volume drop/jump, mud, etc. That helps to isolate the trouble track.

    It is easy to put too many effects on a track/buss. I try to keep it simple to start with and gradually add the effects. I sometime copy a track, mute the original and then work on the copy. That way if I have overdone it, I can easily start over.

    As stated before using busses is very helpful.

    Often a track need sections of it adjusted for volume rather than the whole tracks.

    Finally: patience. Recording and mixing is an endeavor all in itself, just like learning to play the guitar. Rewarding, frustrating and satisfying.

    I heard some nice things in there, keep at it and good luck.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  8. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Sounds like you have good ideas, i can't help with computer interface recording i know i would have trouble with it too. I'm old school and actually like faders and knobs under my fingers!
    I had this out last night listening to some stuff I've done, i need to get back at it...ive been lazy. 20190810_184007.jpg shoot, i miss my cassette 4 track, i'm looking for one.
     
  9. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    I like how it sounds! Granted, it might not have the clarity you really wanted, but I like the graunch nature of it. Sometimes the best things happen by accident.

    Re audio interface.....my son's a producer and I inherited a semi-pro Audient USB interface from him, think it was about 500 quid new. I broke it, of course, and he said he'd be able to get me something else in a couple of months. In the meantime, I splashed out a whole whopping £25 on a Behringer Um2 and........its really very good. For home noodling, especially for those of us who aren't super concerned about ultra high quality output, it's as much as you'll ever need.

    25 quid. About the same in dollars, I guess. Remarkable.

    My tips for recording.....fwiw.....

    1. Set the Reaper channel fader about 80% of its travel, and the crank the output level of the interface until the red clipping light on the Reaper channel shows. Then back it down a little.

    2. Record every thing as clean as possible, add effects later.

    3. EQ the vocal or lead instruments first, get them all nice and clear. Then EQ everything else, usually best to subtract EQ gain at this point.

    4. TOP TIP....there are some fantastic free mastering VSTs that you can strap onto the main stereo buss in reaper. They do a great job of bedding everything together. For years I've used an eq called Baxter and compressor limiter called Limiter No. 6 and a reverb called Ambiance - they both look kind complicated, but I just play with the presets until I find the one that works.
     
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  10. markeebee

    markeebee Country Gent

    Just to say again.....try Limiter No 6. Its the cheat's way to decent results. Kind of like when you put a filter on a photo you've taken on your phone and it makes it look like something from an art magazine.

    And by "art magazine" I don't mean something that your dad kept under the bed.
     
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  11. brownie

    brownie Synchromatic

    707
    Oct 29, 2013
    Spain
    IT'S AN ART IN ITSELF! There's some great tips and advice in there Crooner, but putting it into practice is a different matter.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  12. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Hey, I appreciate all the information from all you guys! To be honest with you, I didn't even come to the forum yesterday because I was a little embarrassed about posting it- I thought someone might say something about how much it sucks. I should of known better that that wouldn't be the case because so far all my experiences from this forum has been positive and helpful.

    I am very interested about this 'bus' thing. I've heard the term before but never knew what it meant until now. So I just gotta figure out how to add a bus in reaper.

    I did learn a lot though from just mixing this song- I mixed it like 7 times and don't think I am going to remix it since I am so tired of it now, lol, maybe a year from now. But my next song I am going to apply everything I've learned and come back and read this thread again.

    Once again, thank you so much.
     
    MotorCentaur likes this.
  13. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Ok, I am downloading them, so awesome that it's free! Sounds like this and the 'Bus'' tip will be a game changer.
     
  14. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    That does make a lot sense.
     
  15. MotorCentaur

    MotorCentaur Gretschie

    281
    May 11, 2016
    Seattle
    That's a great track for just starting out.

    Go to the Reaper website, watch the videos. Kenny's vids are super clear and informative.
    You should also join the Reaper forum. There is a wealth of information there.

    I personaly find a better sound just micing an actual amp and recording it than amp sims. But I've only used free ones. Ignite Amps make a bunch of free VST's and a cab sim (which you need if going that direction).

    My main issue with the sims is latency, but I'm experiencing that all over with my laptop. It's past time for a fresh OS install.

    Digital recording is not like tape recording. You don't want to go anywhere near the red. Better to record in the middle/low of the range to allow headroom/peaks.

    Subtractive mixing and eq-ing is the way to go for cleaner sounding mixes. You can bring the levels up in mastering. It's also good to listen to your mixes on a few different devices; headphones, stereo, car, ghetto blaster, iphone....

    Good luck, it's an adventure.
     
    Frank_NH and Bertotti like this.
  16. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    I have a friend who mixes demos for people. He tells me with compression if you can HEAR it, it is too much but if you can just barely perceive it you are probably pretty close.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
  17. Poeticas

    Poeticas Electromatic

    59
    Jun 24, 2019
    Florida
    Lol, ghetto blaster. Haven't heard that term in a while! Remember people used to carry them on their shoulder with the speakers blasting into the ear? I am a lot older than I look in my pic, that was taken when I was 39 but was the only recent one I had of me holding a guitar (I quit playing the guitar for a while due to depression). I am 45 yrs old now so yeah I grew up in the 80s. Which reminds me, I have a video of me playing a Gretsch- I can take a snapshot still off of VLC player.
     
    MotorCentaur likes this.
  18. DougWheeler74

    DougWheeler74 Electromatic

    7
    Jul 10, 2019
    Appleton, Wisconsin
    Another rule/idea that I forgot:
    I take notes of the setup used to record. That includes amp settings, mics used, positions, pedal settings, etc. I also take notes on effect settings I add in. Tedious, I know, but helpful when setting up for another recording as well as mixing.
     
    Poeticas likes this.
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